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06 Sep 2014

WRX: Timmy Hansen ahead

Category: News, WRX Posted 06.09.14 23:55 by

Timmy Hansen ahead of Petter Solberg and Pontus Tidemand is the outcome of Day 1 at the WorldRX round of Lohéac in France. Ken Block could have matched the leading trio, if he had not forgotten about his Joker in Heat 1.

 

Lohéac is the French home of Rallycross, in 1976 the small village near Rennes in Brittany hosted the first ever event of the in 1967 at Lydden Hill in England invented motorsport. The inaugural race on September 5 1976 took place on a temporary course, one year later the first permanent Circuit de Lohéac was the host for Round 5 of the first French Rallycross Championship. In 1978 and 1983 the venue saw two rounds of the European Rallycross Championship, before in 1986 the second and current Circuit de Lohéac was opened. In addition to the annual French Rallycross Championship rounds four more ERC races were held at the so-called ‘Temple of Rallycross’, in the years 1988, 1993, 2001 and 2013.

The weekend of Round 8 of the all-new FIA World Rallycross Championship started with long awaited information about Liam Doran, who is currently a non-permanent driver, for the second time replaced by stand-in Henning Solberg. On Friday afternoon it was decided and made known that the Brit was excluded from WorldRX Round 3 at Hell in Norway, as his Citroën DS3 SuperCar no 33 was found in breach of the fuel use rules of the 2014 Sporting Regulations up in Hell. Liam Doran was informed that he has the rights to appeal against this decision. On Saturday morning series promoter IMG spread out an official statement by the Doran team concerning his entry in the 2014 FIA World Rallycross Championship and the WorldRX round of Lydden Hill.

 

The second permanent Circuit de Lohéac is in use since 1986. © JKR/ERC24

The second permanent Circuit de Lohéac is in use since 1986. © JKR/ERC24

 

The pre-event press conference was just another stage for the extrovert Mister Block. © JKR/ERC24

The pre-event press conference was just another stage for the extrovert Mister Block. © JKR/ERC24

 

Henning Solberg is already for the second time the stand-in for Liam Doran. © JKR/ERC24

Henning Solberg is already for the second time the stand-in for Liam Doran. © JKR/ERC24

 

Statement: “The Monster Energy World RX Team confirms that Liam Doran will not be competing at round eight of the FIA World Rallycross Championship, hosted in Lohéac, France, 6-7 September 2014. Following his guest drive at WorldRX of Canada, Henning Solberg will again be driving car number 88, as replacement in the team alongside Davy Jeanney. Liam Doran will fulfil his role as team manager, and mentor to the drivers, whilst he awaits clearance to race again after his actions at the FIA World Rallycross Championship round at Lydden Hill are being investigated. These do not relate to racing but concern his father who was involved in an incident during a Group B demonstration. Out of respect for the due processes currently underway, no further information can be given at this time.

‘I am clearly disappointed to be unable to race this round of the FIA World Championship,’ said Doran. ‘Lohéac is a phenomenal track and I’m excited to work with Davy and Henning and support them both this weekend. For Davy it will be a special occasion with home support and Henning will no doubt be quick from the get-go. My role is going to be to direct all my energy towards those guys succeeding.’ Further news will be communicated in due course and the Monster Energy World RX Team looks forward to a successful weekend for World RX and both drivers in Lohéac.”

For the 37 drivers in the SuperCars category the two hours long Open Practice sessions started at 11:00 and ended with quite a surprise. American Ken Block, who has not been to Lohéac before, set the fastest time (37.357s) ahead of Swedish tarmac racer Edward Sandström (37.427s) who is all but familiar with Rallycross. Timmy Hansen finished practice with the third fastest time (37.450s), while championship leader Petter Solberg (38.073s) made it to 13th place only here.

 

After two heats Timmy Hansen is leading Petter Solberg and Pontus Tidemand. © JKR/ERC24

After two heats Timmy Hansen is leading Petter Solberg and Pontus Tidemand. © JKR/ERC24

 

Petter Solberg in real and on the big screen.  © JKR/ERC24

Petter Solberg in real and on the big screen. © JKR/ERC24

 

Ken Block could have been among the top three men, but forgot about his Joker. © JKR/ERC24

Ken Block could have been among the top three men, but forgot about his Joker. © JKR/ERC24

 

In Heat 1 ‘Hoonigan in Chief’ Block was on his way to possibly the fastest time again when he failed to take the Joker Lap. According to the rules this lapse resulted in a 30 seconds penalty that dropped the American with a time of 2:32.467m down to a poor 31st place. Timmy Hansen took advantage from Block’s mishap and claimed the fastest time with 2:34.824m. Seen that Block would have needed about 2 seconds for the Joker Lap detour the outcome of his first qualifying run was all but funny for the Ford campaigner. Pontus Tidemand, who had been fourth in Open Practice, set the second fastest time, Petter Solberg finished in third position. Block and his Ford Fiesta SuperCar quickly fought back to finish Heat 2 second fastest and currently lies 13th at the intermediate points stage. Block explained: “I made a dumb mistake not taking the Joker in the first heat, but I honestly thought I had one more lap to go. I came here to win so I will come back tomorrow and do the best I can.”

The driver who shone from start to finish of Day 1 was Swede Timmy Hansen. The 21-year-old was a model of consistency as he stormed to two consecutive heat wins in his Peugeot 208 SuperCar. “It’s been an incredible day – to be leading for Peugeot on its home event in front of all these passionate fans feels amazing,” explained Hansen. “To do well in Lohéac it’s really important to be quick off the line and fortunately we had good starts on both of our heats. The track also allows me to go flat out in a lot of places which I love doing. What is even better is that my brother [Kevin Hansen] won the Swedish national championship [of the RallyX Lites category] back home, and he did it at exactly the same time as I was winning my second heat, it’s been a perfect day.”

 

The Joker Lap detour at Lohéac is quite long, but the time loss is rather small. © JKR/ERC24

The Joker Lap detour at Lohéac is quite long, but the time loss is rather small. © JKR/ERC24

 

Rally ace Pontus Tidemand is in good mood and very fast. © JKR/ERC24

Rally ace Pontus Tidemand is in good mood and very fast. © JKR/ERC24

 

Dane Ulrik Linnemann leads the Super1600 campaigners with his Peugeot. © JKR/ERC24

Dane Ulrik Linnemann leads the Super1600 campaigners with his Peugeot. © JKR/ERC24

 

Another driver in high spirits was EKS RX driver Pontus Tidemand. “This is the best day I’ve had in RX so far,” grinned the reigning Junior World Rally Champion. “The competition is very tough with a lot of local drivers, but I’m come here feeling confident after my WRC2 win at the Deutschland Rallye last month and feeling good with the car. Now our aim is to be on the podium and to be back in the press conference tomorrow.”

Fourth in the standings is Ford OlsbergsMSE driver Reinis Nitišs who was full of praise for the French RX round. “I love the Lohéac circuit – it’s just like a karting circuit and it suits me really well. I won here last year in the Super1600s and want to do well again this year. Today we got stuck in a bit of traffic, especially in turn one, but we made it through and now we will make some small changes to the car’s set-up and suspension before we get back in the game again tomorrow.”

Jérôme Grosset-Janin leads out of the 16 French SuperCar drivers competing on home soil as the reigning French Rallycross Champion rounds off the top five. Fellow-countryman Gaëtan Sérazin is ninth and Fabien Pailler – who is currently leading the French national championship – lies 10th.

Elsewhere, it was a difficult day for the Monster Energy World RX Team. Frenchman Davy Jeanney was excluded from Heat 1 due to being under the minimum weight with his Citroën DS3 SuperCar, but recovered in Heat 2 to post the third quickest time. Volkswagen Marklund’s Anton Marklund and ‘Topi’ Heikkinen are sixth and 16th respectively, with both drivers reporting that the team will work on the car’s set-up overnight. Andy Scott lies inside the top 12 as a race win in Heat 2 sees him finish today 11th overall.

After a day of close racing in the Super1600 and TouringCar FIA European Rallycross Championship categories Dane Ulrik Linnemann and Norwegian David Nordgård lead their classes respectively.

 

Situation in SuperCars after Day 1 to be found here.

Situation in Super1600s after Day 1 to be found here.

Situation in TouringCars after Day 1 to be found here.

 

For more images please visit our Flickr gallery here.

 

Top photo: Timmy Hansen jumping to the top of the overnight standings. © JKR/ERC24

 

The highlights of Day 1 in moving pictures.